Recently, there has been a peak in people questioning the benefits vs. risks regarding the chiropractor. Many people worldwide visit chiropractors for a list of physical ailments. However, with the recent accidental death of Playboy and Snapchat star, Katie May, being blamed on the chiropractor people are beginning to question this form of rehabilitation. In February, May passed away after a chiropractor visit that ruptured a main artery during a neck manipulation treatment.
Chiropractors treat people by aligning their spine with a variety of manipulations. During the first visit, chiropractors usually perform a physical exam and take a health history, paying special attention to the spine and whether the patient has normal bone density. The chiropractor uses his or her hands and the special bed to apply controlled, rapid force to a damaged or injured joint. This is to allow the joint to move in a normal manner and reduce pain and inflammation. One maneuver is the high-velocity cervical adjustment, in which the patient relaxes his or her head in the hands of the chiropractor, who quickly thrusts the head in one direction, usually creating a cracking sound. Chiropractors can also conduct gentler, low-velocity cervical adjustments, particularly on patients who are older or have lower bone density. Chiropractors also treat some patients for headaches that are caused by nerve irritation.
The jury is still out on whether these treatments are actually helpful or more potentially dangerous. Some studies have shown chiropractic care to be beneficial. One study published in the British Medical Journal in 2003 evaluated 183 patients with neck pain who were randomly assigned to receive treatment that involved spinal manipulations, exercise and care from a general practitioner, which involved primarily counseling, education and prescription drugs. The people in the study kept diaries outlining the costs for one year. The study found that manual therapy was more effective and less expensive than physiotherapy or care by a general practitioner.
A 2001 study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal found the risk of a stroke following a cervical chiropractic treatment to be one per 5.85 million treatments. Still, in 2014 the American Heart Association released a statement saying getting your neck adjusted by a chiropractor or osteopathic doctor may be linked to an increased risk of stroke. Some physicians believe any risk of stroke is too high a cost and say that they advise their patients to stay away from chiropractors completely.